Bert felt jealous, cheated on, and blue. Then he discovered he could morph into a giant nightmarish slug...
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On Wednesdays and Sundays I’m blogging nibble-sized chunks of new ‘Life in the Clouds’ novellas. You can check in regularly and read them bit for bit, or leave a message in my 'contact' page, and I'll send the entire digital story to you for free when published.
Life in the Clouds #6: Take a Slug ® James Field.
Bert sat up and blinked. “I’m a doctor,” said an Arab. “You’re suffering from shock. Lay down, the ambulance is almost here.”
The Arab struggled to push Bert back into the puddle, but Bert thrust back and sent the foreigner toppling. “I ain’t going to no hospital. Ain’t nothing wrong with me.”
“So it seems,” said the doctor, shaking wet and muck from his robes, his voice monotone. “Nothing wrong physically, at least.”
“I’m not daft,” said Bert, folding his arms around himself. He knew he wasn’t the brightest person in the world, but he wasn’t a nitwit either. He looked to the others for backup, but they just smiled at him, like a bunch of morons. Frantic to unearth proof of his mental smartness, he sifted through his memories and found an excellent example. “The other day, I did a jigsaw puzzle in five days.”
“Yes?” The doctor had already turned to leave. Now he paused and scratched his temple. “What is so special about that?”
“On the box it said: ‘Three to four years’, didn’t it Alf?”
A ripple of laughter spread through the crowd, but the Arab doctor wasn’t amused. He pulled and plucked at his robes as if those were the cause of his irritation.
Bert let his gaze roam over his body. His feathers had withered to ash and the tar coating had turned crispy, like a glaze of chocolate on an ice cream lolly. The crispy tar cracked and flaked off as he moved. “I’m thirsty,” he croaked.
Morris tugged on his bottom lip. “If Bert isn’t the slug, it means there is still a giant slug roaming about somewhere?”
The doctor swung his head between Bert and Morris. "I’m surrounded by raving lunatics. If the ambulance isn’t needed, I’ll send it away. Giant slugs indeed!" Then he strode off, muttering below his breath.
“I’m thirsty,” repeated Bert. “Where’s Olive gone?”
“Here I am, pet.” She held a bundle of blankets in her arms and draped them around Bert’s shoulders. “Can you stand?”
A helping hand from Alf and Styles soon had Bert groaning to his feet. He pulled the blankets tight around himself. Then he noticed Morris staring at him, hands in pockets and rocking on his feet. “Good to see you, Morris. Get out of your pickup okay?”
“Hah!” roared Morris and shook a clenched fist. “So it was you.”
“Was me what?”
“You who dragged my pickup into the forest and trapped me in. You’ll die for that, or my name isn’t Morris.”
To be continued…
The real world:
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Like to know more about Alf, Bert and the rest of the gang? You can read their chaotic history in What on Earth.
Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay
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The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
There’s a lot to like and a lot to dislike in this story. I like that it’s cosy, funny, and heart-warming. The plot, however, is a tragedy. There are two murders, and every character in the book, of which there are many, has a motif. With so many twists, turns, and red herrings throughout the narrative, it lost me in a virtual maze.
But the author commits the gravest crime: he introduces a new, guilty character right at the end of the story. Tut, tut, naughty.
View all my reviews